Enterprise Architecture: Catalogues, Portfolios, and Inventories

There are three levels of architecture in the organization: enterprise, segment, and solutions. This is explained in a prior post.

Each level of the architecture identifies and categorizes business and technical information. However, the information captured in the three architecture levels (enterprise, segment, and solutions) differs as to their level of detail.

Here’s how this works:

  • Catalogues—Enterprise architecture maintains catalogues of strategic-level enterprise assets. For example, EA provides catalogues of enterprise business functions and activities, enterprise systems, and enterprise hardware and software products and standards.
  • Portfolios—Segment architecture maintains portfolios of items scoped to the individual lines of business (LOB), at a medium level of detail, with impact focused on business outcomes. For example, a portfolio of systems or databases relevant to the functioning of a specific LOB such as for Finance, HR, and so on.
  • Inventories—Solutions architecture maintains inventories of configuration items for the enterprise. The configuration items are at the maximum level of detail for maintaining control of changes. This is used, for example, for software configuration management and for engineering support of IT infrastructure.

All three types of information products types—Catalogues, Portfolios, and Inventories—contain similar types of information pertinent to the organization; however, each product functions at a different level in the architecture—enterprise, segment, and solutions. Each of the information product types should be traceable and align to the next, so that inventories roll up into portfolios, and portfolios roll up in total to the enterprise asset catalogues. In this way, the architecture framework is consistent throughout the organization, items are traceable at all levels—from the solutions developers up to the strategic-level EA—and items can be viewed at the appropriate level of detail depending on whether the viewer is a senior leader, an executive decision-maker in the LOB, or a solution provider (“fixer-doer”).

Some organizations have chosen for simplicity’s sake to call all three of these product types “inventories.” That is acceptable, with the understanding that these “inventories” are providing different levels of detail corresponding to the different levels of architecture.